Sunday, 29 May 2016
Title: The Land That Time Forgot
Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs
“The Land that Time Forgot” by Edgar Rice Burroughs is a classic novel set during WWI in which a group of people from both sides of the conflict find themselves stranded in a strange and mysterious land called Caspak. They soon find that Caspak’s seclusion from the world means that there are prehistoric animals and vegetation still surviving there alongside some primitive human tribes. It soon becomes obvious to this group of both allies and enemies that they must face many dangerous adventures if they are to one day return home.
The story is told at a decent pace and I thoroughly enjoyed the initial portions of the novel which covers the capturing of a German U-Boat by the Brits and Americans. This section of the novel was written wonderfully by Burroughs and I found the plot to be quite interesting and engaging. However, once the novel moves onto Caspak itself, the story soon descends into a rather pulpy adventure fantasy which jumps from one crisis to the next. Yes, it is action packed and moves along quickly, but the plot itself just becomes rather flimsy and lacking in depth as Burroughs becomes more interesting in giving the reader action and adventure. For me, the sections of the story set on Caspak were only made bearable due to the wonderful setting itself which Burroughs does make quite atmospheric and I also found the evolutionary aspects of the human tribes quite interesting to observe.
The characters themselves seemed rather too rigidly defined with an obvious hero, love interest and villain there to see. There are no surprises with any of them and to be honest they are all quite lacking in detail. There are no complicated, multi-facetted characters here; they are more or less caricatures that exist just to ensure there is someone there who can be used to fit the various plot points.
My final gripe, is in regards to the ending itself. It is very abrupt and we don’t really get a proper resolution. It feels like an attempt at creating a cliff-hanger to make sure we read the next book, but it just didn’t feel like a truly natural ending to the novel which was a bit disappointing.
Overall, this is an action packed adventure that is interesting enough but it feels rather dated with a rather pulpy plot and quite uninspiring characters. I will probably read the sequel just to find out what happens next and whilst I expect it to be competently written, I am not expecting anything more than a light pulpy fantasy adventure.
Thursday, 19 May 2016
Title: The Case of the Colonist's Corpse
Author: Bob Ingersoll & Tony Isabella
"The Case of the Colonist's Corpse" by Bob Ingersoll and Tony Isabella is an interesting departure from standard Star Trek literature. There is only a brief cameo from the Enterprise and its crew with the majority of the novel being devoted to telling a mystery/courtroom drama story set on a colony world with a story centres around Sam Cogley, the lawer who defended Captain Kirk in the TV episode “Court Martial”.
The events of the novel take place on Aneher II, a planet whose ownership is being contested by both the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Under the terms of the Organian Peace Treaty whichever government is deemed to have best developed their portion of the planet will be awarded the planet and both groups are therefore trying to prove their abilities. The uneasy peace between the two groups is shattered however by the murder of the Federation Administrator, Daniel Latham, seemingly killed by the Klingon Commander Mak'Tor. In order to provide a fair trial, Sam Cogley volunteers to defend Mak’Tor and must face off against his previous foe in the courtroom, prosecutor Areel Shaw.
The plot follows a classic mystery template with the reader knowing who is dead and who is going to be accused right from the earliest moments. They also know that the accused is obviously innocent and the fun lies in trying to pick the real culprit out a list of suspects who all have clear reasons for wanting to kill the victim. If you have ever read Perry Mason mystery novel then you will have a good idea what type of novel this is as it is very similar in style.
In regards to the writing itself, on the whole it felt quite simplistic but I don’t think that this distracted from the simple fun of seeing the Trek Universe explored in such an original and enjoyable way. However, this decision to concentrate on a small and little explored element of the Trek Universe instead of just re-hashing the standard Trek formula does result in one issue which may disappoint some readers. Basically, there is very little time put aside for the traditional characters of The Original Series. Personally, I didn’t mind this but I know there are some readers of Trek lit who mainly read these novels because of the Enterprise and its crew.
Overall, this was an enjoyable novel which provides readers with a Trek novel that doesn’t follow the traditional template. The fusion of Star Trek and Courtroom drama is an interesting one that had me entertained although I suspect the Science-Fiction elements may put off regular readers of the Mystery genre. In addition, any Star Trek fan who regular reads Trek books due to the Enterprise crew will also probably have some issues.